(Inspired by a true story)
They came into Tam’s village
M16s raised, helmets glistening,
He wanted no part of their war,
The Americans, the North, the South,
Just to live, farm, and marry,
Like his father and grandfather,
He didn’t know what they wanted,
But knew his country was a puppet
For more powerful greedy men
Who cared little for his beautiful land
And even less for it’s innocent people.
The soldier walked to his door,
Knocked loudly and shouted,
Tam didn’t know what he wanted,
Couldn’t even understand what he said,
His father let them in anyway,
If he didn’t, they’d be shot,
Or worse, rumours had spread
Of the horrors of My Lai
And the terrifying poison
To raze and devastate
His once majestic home.
In he slowly walked, powerful,
Taking out his long cold bayonet,
Staring Tam dead in the eyes while
He coldly smiled and attached it.
Dark, overpowering fear
Ran through Tam’s mind and heart,
His sister shook in his arms.
The American thrust and stabbed
In and out of Tams home and soul.
Nothing was there to find.
As the American swiftly left
To join his comrades in blood
Tam held his breath, knowing hidden
In the lush green jungle around them,
With guns aimed at the young soldier,
The Vietcong calmly waited.
Tam passionately prayed and pleaded
To all the gods of man he knew.
There was no blood shed here that day.
Not long after the Americans returned
And burnt his home and village to ashes.
Forty long and grateful years passed,
Tam grew old, married, now a grandfather,
He never forgot that day, it shared his dreams,
Burrowed deep into his nightmares,
They rebuilt his village, but it was never the same,
Life in Vietnam had changed beyond
Anything they had known before,
One day an old American tourist
Came into the village, reliving his own
Burrowing, deadening, nightmares.
Ravaged, fragile, devoured.
He walked over to Tam, with a look in his eyes,
such sorrow, guilt and shame,
“Do you remember me?” Asked the American.
It took him a while, but inside he knew.
The American and Tam sat and drank,
Talked about long gone days, cold
And forgotten to the world at large.
“Do you hate us?” The American whispered,
(Inside asking if Tam hated him)
Tam thought slowly and deeply
“I don’t hate anyone” he replied
“No one in Vietnam does, circumstance
Led us down a dark and dangerous path
Of other old mens greed”
He smiled at the American veteran
“We both found a way out”
The old American smiled back,
They became friends, laughed
And cared, forgiving the past,
And sleeping soundly at night once more.